The Temptation of Jesus
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
The Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove at his baptism. Now, immediately after his baptism, the Spirit sends him into the wilderness for a time of meditation and contemplation, a preparation for his ministry. The word, “immediately” or “at once” is used many times in Mark’s gospel. He moves quickly through the story, showing Jesus moving quickly from one place to another or one situation to another. In this case, we could say that Jesus did not just hang around, he left the Jordan River and went into the wilderness, not because he thought it a good idea, but because the Spirit led him to do so. In that wilderness, Jesus was tempted – Mark does not describe the temptations, as other gospel writers do, nor is the temptation the focus of the wilderness time here, but simply says, he was tempted by Satan. The Greek word for tempted has a meaning of both a time of trial or testing or of being tempted by evil. Whichever Mark implies in these few words, Jesus survived the testing or the temptation, to return to begin his ministry.
He was with the wild animals, or beasts – this description enhances the foreboding nature of wilderness. But, looking deeper, we find that through the Old Testament, the wild animals appear to be in league with the forces of evil, hostile to human beings. Jesus, however, dwells among them for this period of 40 days – at peace, even with forces that could otherwise harm. We are again led to the passages of the establishment of God’s Kingdom in Isaiah, when the lion will lie down with the lamb.
Jesus was sustained by the angels – remember the story of Elijah, when he hid in a cave and the angel came and prepared food for him and gave him food and water and allowed him to rest? Again, a reference to the Old Testament prophets helps the reader of Mark’s gospel see that Jesus really was God’s Son. We see, then, that Jesus was indeed the promised one proclaimed by John.
(Reference: Guelich, Word Biblical Commentary: 34 A, Mark. pages 36 – 40)
photo is the wilderness around Qumran, and some of the caves where Dead Sea Scrolls were found.